Preparations are underway in Crimea for Sunday’s referendum on joining Russia, with the regional government promising it will follow stringent election protocols.
That means nothing to those who oppose the poll which is disputed by Ukraine and the West as unconstitutional.
But in towns like Alupka there is support among ethnic Russian speakers.
Alupka resident Zinaeda explained which way she will vote: “You know, I really hope to join Russia, because we are tired of waiting for a better life. We are tired of everything that’s been going on. Everyone is running around from job to job to get some money. We’re working here for six months during the tourist season and the rest of the year there’s nothing.”
The campaign “Together with Russia” has the backing of Moscow, but Ukrainian presidential candidate Vitaly Klitschko is calling for a boycott:
“The illegal referendum made up by self-proclaimed authorities and under the cover of a foreign army has nothing to do with the interests of Crimean citizens. They are turning Crimea into a flash point and in such a militarised zone it is not easy to imagine a tourist season, guaranteed work, salaries and welfare payments.”
As the vote gets nearer tensions are rising in the rest of Ukraine where its troops are on exercise near the Crimean border.
It is not clear how Kyiv and the West will react if Crimea votes for a union with Russia.
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